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Peace Corps Suspends Program in Niger; All Volunteers Evacuated Safely

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 17, 2011 Peace Corps has suspended its program in Niger due to ongoing concerns about volunteer security. All 98 volunteers are safe and accounted for and have been safely evacuated to another country. Volunteers will take part in a transition conference and if possible will be offered the option to complete their service in another Peace Corps country.

Peace Corps will continue to assess the safety and security climate in Niger. The safety and security of volunteers is the Peace Corps' highest priority.

"The Peace Corps has been committed to development in Niger for nearly five decades," said Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams. "We have excellent relationships with Nigerien people and communities and we are grateful for the strong partnership we have had with counterpart organizations and the Government of Niger."

Prior to the suspension, Peace Corps had operated in Niger without interruption since 1962. Over 3,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Niger since the program was established, working in the areas of Agriculture/Natural Resource Management, Health, Education and Municipal Community Development.

Families with questions or concerns may contact the Peace Corps Niger Country Desk at (202) 692-2327 during business hours and the Office of Special Services after hours. The Office of Special Services maintains a 24-hour, 7 days a week duty system. The telephone number during standard office hours is (800) 424-8580, extension 1470; the after-hours number is (202) 692-1470.

About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 77 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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